Brouwerij der Abdij van St.Sixtus Westvleteren 8° – Dubbel at 8% ABV

Brouwerij der Abdij van St.Sixtus Westvleteren 8° Dubbel at 8% ABV (€3.95 at de Biertempel Brussels, 330 ml, best before 3-Dec-2017)

Appearance: mostly clear deep brown with some particulate, one finger of loose light tan head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, spotty lacing. (4/5) Aroma: dried dark fruits, toffee, vanilla, nutty, light chocolate, mild yeast. (9/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (9/10) Medium-light body, moderate-lively carbonation, drying mildly tart and and warming finish. (5/5)

Surprisingly light and lively body, with rich and complex aroma and flavours. Unsurprisingly, there’s a strong family resemblance to the XII,except that this is a lighter, more drinkable version in almost every way. Definitely a class above. (18/20)

9/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Mikkeller Beer Geek Dessert – Imperial Stout at 11% ABV

Mikkeller Beer Geek Dessert Imperial Stout at 11% ABV (C$9.09 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 330 ml, best before 7-May-2025)

Appearance: opaque brown-black with one finger of rocky mocha head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: milk chocolate, coffee, vanilla, dark roasty malt. (9/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (9/10) Medium body, moderate-soft carbonation, building bitter and warming finish. (5/5)

Surprisingly well-balanced on the sweetness, given the intense dessert-like aromas. Better than Breakfast, almost as good as Brunch Weasel. Smells a bit sweeter than Brunch Weasel, yet doesn’t really taste much sweeter, but Brunch Weasel has a surreal smoothness that this one doesn’t quite attain. Still, really, really good, and as I’ve come to expect from the Beer Geek series, extremely well-behaved for such an immense ABV. (18/20)

9/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Big Rock Brewery McNally’s Extra – Irish Red Ale at 7% ABV

Big Rock Brewery McNally’s Extra Irish Red Ale at 7% ABV (C$5.79 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Appearance: clear medium amber with one finger of rocky light tan head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: caramel malt, dark fruit, grassy and earthy, diacetyl. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, light sour. (5/10) Medium body, medium carbonation, medium duration bitter and lightly sour finish. (3/5)

Nope, sorry. I’ve tried this beer so many times over the years, but I’m just not getting any closer to liking it. It’s malt-heavy, which would be fine, but for that sour something I can’t quite identify. And it’s not a good sour, either – more like the back of the throat “hurk” when you’re trying not to puke. (10/20)

5.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Stone Brewing Company Stochasticity Your Father Smelt of Elderberries – American Strong Ale at 10.3% ABV

Stone Brewing Company Stochasticity Your Father Smelt of Elderberries American Strong Ale at 10.3% ABV (C$13.49 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 650 ml, bottle date 3-Sep-2015)

Appearance: ruby-brown with one finger of dense pinkish head, excellent retention and good lacing. (4/5) Aroma: dark fruit, red berries, caramel, smoke, leather, herbal and earthy. (6/10) Taste: low-moderate sweet, moderately strong bitter. (4/10) Medium body, medium-low carbonation, herbal boozy and spicy finish. (3/5)

Stone, I hate to say this, because I love you, but: these Stochasticity beers are starting to seem like so much pretentious twaddle. This is like sucking on a leather tobacco pouch. And no, that’s not an exaggeration: that’s exactly what it tastes like, maybe with a bit of raspberry jam on top. The only reason this ranks above a Coors Light is the fact that, flaws aside, it’s different, and pretty good-looking. But I wouldn’t have this again if you paid me. On the up side, much like the gruits I’ve tried, this makes me intensely glad I didn’t live in medieval times. And it near killed me to do it, but I sink poured half a thirteen dollar ten percent beer. Happy now, Stone? (8/20)

5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Steamworks Brewing Company Frambözen – Fruit / Vegetable Beer at 7% ABV

Steamworks Brewing Company Frambözen Fruit / Vegetable Beer at 7% ABV (C$5.79 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Appearance: clear ruby red with one finger of light purple head, excellent retention and patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: tart raspberry, white grape, wheat. (6/10) Taste: moderately strong sweet, moderate tart, mild bitter. (6/10) Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, crisp and tart short duration finish. (3/5)

Emphatic raspberry and not much else. On the up side, it’s sweet without being cloying, and the raspberry doesn’t come across as artificial. Not unpleasant, even if it is a bit of a one-trick pony. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Village Brewery Village Gardener (2015) – American Pale Ale at 5.5% ABV

Village Brewery Village Gardener (2015) American Pale Ale at 5.5% ABV (C$6.79 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Appearance: slightly hazy pale gold with a short, short-lived white head, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: citrus, grainy pale malt, honey, rhubarb, cherry. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, light tart. (6/10) Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, crisp short duration finish. (4/5)

I like the concept behind this beer: locally brewed, not just with locally-grown ingredients, but community-grown ones. And not to suggest I dislike the flavour, but I don’t like it quite as well as the concept. I’m getting the added fruit flavours, including rhubarb and cherry, but overall it’s a little sharp and unbalanced. Can’t be much more specific than that about how this falls short, but it doesn’t really rev me up. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Le Trou du Diable Shawi Beach – American IPA at 6.5% ABV

Le Trou du Diable Shawi Beach American IPA at 6.5% ABV (C$7.79 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 600 ml, bottle date 27-Aug-2015)

Appearance: hazy straw with two fingers of fluffy off-white head, good retention and patchy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: pine resin, citrus, caramel malt, tropical fruit, slight catty and woody. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, decently crisp medium duration finish. (4/5)

Maybe I’ve been overdoing it on the IPA’s lately, but this doesn’t seem all that memorable. It’s nice and all, but it just seems to lack a certain brightness or punch. Good, and this is the second time I’ve had it, but I don’t think I’ll bother again. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Central City Brewers + Distillers Red Racer Pale Ale – American Pale Ale at 5% ABV

Central City Brewers + Distillers Red Racer Pale Ale American Pale Ale at 5% ABV (Gift – thanks, Kath!, 355 ml, packing date 25-Jun-2015)

Appearance: clear medium gold with two fingers of loose ivory head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: pine, citrus, caramel malt, light tropical fruit. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, short duration medium bitter finish. (3/5)

I was a bit surprised by the way it foamed up on opening, lost a mouthful or two. Other than that, not bad. Smells a bit better than it tastes: it tends to the watery, so it doesn’t quite have the body to pull off the hop character. The flavours end up dropping off a little rapidly, leaving a little bit of an unbalanced lingering bitter. Quite sessionable, though. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

The Grizzly Paw Brewing Company Evolution IPA – American IPA at 6.4% ABV

The Grizzly Paw Brewing Company Evolution IPA American IPA at 6.4% ABV (C$6.99 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, bottle date 15-Sep-2015)

Appearance: clear pale amber with two fingers of fluffy ivory head, good retention and patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: pine, citrus, caramel malt. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, lingering and building bitter finish. (4/5)

Definitely an improvement over other Grizzly Paw offerings I’ve tried, with the possible exception of their Sour IPA and their Kettle Valley Sour Brown (which I was probably slightly too generous in rating at 7/10 and 8/10, respectively). This one verges on that malt-forward D/IPA character, but doesn’t quite get there, which means it’s pretty well balanced, I guess? A solid but not all that memorable A/IPA – try it if you see it, but don’t lose any sleep over it. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Phillips Brewing Company Apteryx IPA – American IPA at 6.5% ABV

Phillips Brewing Company Apteryx IPA American IPA at 6.5% ABV (C$6.79 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Appearance: clear pale amber with two fingers of fluffy ivory head, excellent retention and patchy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: bright citrus, vinous, pineapple, light caramel, earthy. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (8/10) Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry finish. (4/5)

OK, so I’m a little slow on the uptake – and in my defence, it’s because I was trying to remember the line and the comic strip associated with “Apteryx” (“Hi there, I am an Apteryx, a wingless bird with hairy feathers.”, and “B.C.,” in case you obsess over shit like that, like I do.) – but I was wondering what the heck a bird shaped like a hairy potato had to do with beer. Until I looked more closely at the label, and realized no, it’s not shaped like a potato at all, but a hop cone. And of course, Kiwi are Apteryx. And Nelson Sauvin hops are from New Zealand, just like kiwi. Yes, that’s the kind of shit that goes on in my head. Sad, isn’t it? Oh, the beer? Yeah, it’s good. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com